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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Family Members Attend Memorial at ‘Ground Zero’

NEW YORK (REUTERS) — Recovery work halted and tears flowed at New York’s “Ground Zero” Sunday as thousands of grieving family members gathered for a memorial service at the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers.

Listening to prayers and performances, the mourners sat just yards away from where the mighty buildings once stood and some 4,500 people lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Police said 9,200 people attended the service, held for family members only.

“My daughter is out there some place,” said Cathy Mazzotta, mother of 23-year-old Jennifer Mazzotta who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of Tower One. “This is the last place she’s been, so it makes me feel good.”

Acclaimed tenor Andrea Bocelli brought tears to many people’s eyes with his rendition of “Ave Maria,” as did violinist Ilya Gringolts as he played a traditional Yiddish piece called “Raisins and Almonds,” and the Metropolitan Opera’s Renee Fleming as she sang “God Bless America.”

The ruins of buildings still standing around the site formed a haunting backdrop, with their blackened walls and violently mangled girders providing a jarring contrast to the soft music and prayers designed to comfort the mourners.

“We come here today to hold those who hurt so much, to help those who need so much and to heal those who cry so much,” said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, a New York Fire Department chaplain.

“Guide us to better days,” said Imam Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha, a police chaplain. “In pursuit of justice, let us not hate. … Let us be the best human beings we can be, and not let those who would do these things turn us against one another.”

Despite the bright, cloudless day and workers’ efforts to dampen the rubble with powerful water hoses, the sky was hazy from the cloud of ash and dust that still pours from the ruins. And the bitter scent of the destruction, which has become a familiar odor in the city, spurred many to don face masks.

Recovery work came to a halt for the hour-long service, the second time it has ceased since the towers were felled by two hijacked passenger planes. The first time was Oct. 11, when workers paused to mark the one-month anniversary of the attacks with a moment of silence.

At the service, few people seemed able to keep their composure, and a handful of mourners, visibly distraught, had to be led away.

Many clutched snapshots of loved ones tightly, while others held larger portraits over their heads, swaying gently to the music. One woman held aloft a photo of a smiling family in one hand and a photo of a tiny infant in the other.


Afterward, mourners took flowers from the stage and handed them to firefighters, who placed the purple and yellow blooms on top of the heaps of rubble. The firefighters then placed bits of the rubble in the outstretched hands of the mourners.

At a private ceremony later, relatives were presented with wooden urns containing ashes from the trade center. Given that fewer than 500 bodies have been identified, for many the urns would be the only remnant they would have to bury.

Pat Hannafin, who attended the service in memory of his brother Tom, a firefighter, said it had been a comfort when his brother’s body was found and could be buried a few days later.

“That’s the only consolation,” he said. “I don’t know how the other families are going through it.”

Chris Hasson wore a shirt printed with the words, “In loving memory of my brother Joe.”

Joe Hasson worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and when he died, he left behind a 3-month-old son, his brother said.

“It’s just good to be around other people that know what you’re going through right now,” he said of the service.
Petrolina Joseph sobbed as she recounted how her son Fitzroy St. Rose called to say he was trapped on the 83rd floor of one tower.
Asked if it was any consolation to be with other families who were grieving, she simply shook her head and said, “No.”

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